Zoom in Review

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It's very likely you've used or at least heard of Zoom

Like it or hate it, Zoom is most likely here to stay.

You wake up and check your phone. 7:55 Am. Enough time to put on a clean shirt, do your hair, and grab a java from your household coffee machine. You get up and begin doing those things, hopping on your work laptop for a morning meeting immediately after. You check your phone again. 8:00 AM. Perfect timing and your team’s Zoom call boots up. You begin your meeting and the start of your workday.

 

Remember when life was like that during the Pandemic peak? We sure do (and we don’t judge if you still have an efficient morning workflow like the one above). Like everyone else, we became quite familiar with a new tool that was used in our everyday work. The tool that was connecting us while working remotely from each other. If you haven’t picked it out already, we are talking about Zoom.

Zoom had the highest download volume out of any video calling app in 2020. Beating the likes of Google Duo & Meets and Microsoft Skype.

Since the pandemic, we have become quite versed in the Zoom software. From assisting our Elders on how to use it, to becoming back-end tech support for conference calls. We needed to understand Zoom inside in out. In our time of using the app, we picked up a few troubleshooting tips and tricks along the way which we are happy to share with you.

Tips and Tricks

Continuous Updates

For any software to succeed, constant updates must meet the needs of the user base. It should also address any bugs or issues with the current version. Zoom has updated loads of new features since we started using the software in early 2020. In the last year alone, you can now share your screen directly to an individual breakout room, select from new reactions that are part of the emoji family, spotlight multiple people at once, and conduct a poll with your audience.

Zoom also increased its security and the level of call encryption to prevent anyone from “Zoom bombing”. Even without encryption, Zoom bombing is avoidable if you follow safe internet practices and never share your calls password or link to the public.

 

Dealing with a buggy Zoom client? We highly suggest checking to make sure your Zoom is up to date. You can check this by either selecting your icon when opening Zoom on your desktop or right-clicking on the active small Zoom icon in your Task Manager. If an issue continues to persist, simply go to the Zoom Download Centre and reinstall the application.

How to update your zoom client
Users can easily check if their Zoom is up to date via clicking on their profile

Creating the Perfect Workspace

Zoom has three views styles on the computer:

  • Windowed

  • Windowed fullscreen

  • Fullscreen

By default, Zoom should start in windowed fullscreen when launched. Windowed full screen is the best view for creating a Zoom workspace when managing the call on one screen. Whenever you click on Participants or Chat, Zoom will automatically snap them in place to the right side of the screen. However, when you or someone else begins sharing a screen, Zoom will go into full screen and remove your workspace. You can get back to your workspace by clicking exit fullscreen on the top right of the call. 

 

As a host, this workspace is great to view all of the participants, see the activity in chat, mute or request to unmute guests, and spotlight guests with ease. To prevent your workspace from being disrupted, we suggest selecting “maintain current size” under the Screenshare options in the call settings.

Having an organized workspace allows for easy management of your Zoom participants.

Spotlighting

When you start talking, you want to be viewed by everyone. Zoom has a great AI (Artificial Intelligence) that recognizes when someone is talking and brings the speaker’s webcam to the front. What if someone else has their mic on and makes noise? Zoom will then show the webcam of the noisemaker; this can be a problem. As a moderator, it was our best practice to spotlight the speaker so they always have the floor. 

 

After continuous community requests, (probably from us) Zoom also added multiple people to be spotlit at once in the instance of sharing a group presenting or specific individuals talking. Spotlighting can be as easy as right-clicking on one’s video and selecting “spotlight individual”, or even clicking the “more” option within the participant’s window and selecting “spotlight speaker”. You can easily remove the spotlighted speaker by following the same instructions above. The other option is to click the “remove spotlight button” on the spotlit speakers video.

Having someone spotlight key-speakers is similar to giving them a virtual stage to speak on.

"Can you hear me?"

One of the most troublesome and yet common problems with any Zoom call is when someone is speaking, but cannot be heard. Often we can read the lips of these silenced guests saying “can you hear me” but no audio persists. Sometimes it’s just a simple “I forgot to unmute” issue, but what if the issue continues? About 90% of the time Zoom recognizes another audio source on the user’s computer, but they do not have it set up by default. To troubleshoot this, it’s as simple as clicking the small arrow on the mic icon and selecting the microphone option “Same as System”. This allows Zoom to recognize the user’s default mic and will use it for the rest of the call. If by default the setting is “Same as System”, then select the other mic options.

 

What about the other 10% of issues that aren’t fixed by this? Most of the time it might be due to another microphone hooked up but not being recognized by the computer. If this is the case, we suggest switching to the computer’s default mic. The last resort fix is to leave the call, unplug/ disconnect the external mic, restart the computer, and plugging-in/ connect your external microphone again. If further issues persist, there may be a driver issue that requires a bit more work than necessary for the Zoom call.

image showing how to access mic and sound settings in zoom
Clicking the small arrow to the upper-right of the mic accesses sounds settings.

Accessing Settings

It surprises us how many don’t know there are in-call settings that can be accessed. It’s Zoom’s fault for not laying settings out on the main call workspace. There are two direct ways to access settings:

  • Through the call info

    In the top left of the workspace, there is a green shield icon the holds the calls information. Once clicked, you can access a spur/ gear icon that brings you the calls settings.

Or

  • Through microphone settings 

    Clicking the small arrow icon above the microphone allows you to access the microphone settings nested within the call settings.

Accessing settings is perfect if you need to adjust the call on the fly. Want to view more participant webcams or change webcams background? Under video settings, you can view up to 49 participants and upload your image as a webcam background. Using two monitors for the call? Under general settings, you can optimize the call for dual monitor use. Need to make the text bigger for folks that need speech to text? Under accessibility, you can adjust the caption text. Have feedback about how Zoom can improve their product? Leave a comment under the Feedback setting.

If you have yet to deep dive into the Zoom call settings, we highly recommend playing with it to make sure the call is set for your needs.

The settings window in Zoom
The internal Zoom settings can be accessed during the call.

Accessing settings is perfect if you need to make adjustments to the call on the fly. Want to view more participant webcams or change webcams background? Under video settings, you can view up to 49 participants and upload your image as a webcam background. Using two monitors for the call? Under general settings, you can optimize the call for dual monitor use. Need to make the text bigger for folks that need speech to text? Under accessibility, you can adjust the caption text. Have feedback about how Zoom can improve their product? Leave a comment under the Feedback setting.

 

If you have yet to deep dive into the Zoom call settings, we highly recommend playing with it to make sure the call is set for your needs.

Zoom in our Community

ISPARC

When organizations slowly began opening their offices again, there still was an issue for enterprises that rely on large in-person gatherings for programming. Due to the current provincial and federal health protocols in place, it was most likely that these programs were not to happen. ISPARC (Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity, And Recreation Council) was one of the organizations in our community that faced this barrier.

 

We began working with ISPARC on how they would utilize a video calling app, such as Zoom, to run a virtual conference. After proper planning with creating a run sheet, establishing roles, and knowing what the backend technical requirements were, ISPARC would go on to successfully run their Healthy Living Regional Leader Training Sessions remotely for the next two years.

ISPARC Leader showing off Exercise
Daniel Young Mercer (aka Fast Frog) Showing off some exercises to their participants on Zoom.
Our team behind the scenes at ISPARCs Healthy Living Regional Leader Training Sessions.

While ISPARC was in charge of the curriculum and delivery, our team made sure that the call would run smoothly. Participants were able to be seen and heard, address technical issues, and present any media that matches the flow of the presentation.

Our Community Elders

Before the pandemic, we were involved in a monthly program called “Elders Tech Time” at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre (VNFC). Here we would share our knowledge to any technical questions they may have. Elders in our community recently received a bunch of new tablets due to funding at the Friendship Centre. We were able to mentor them on how to use tablets. This then lead to showing how they could connect with others through Zoom and other apps. When the pandemic struck, our Elders were prepared. Although isolated, many were connected through their tablets with Zoom by hosting bingo nights, group readings, and teachings.

 

We were very fortunate that our Elders in Community were prepared for the growing use of Zoom and other video calling apps. Due to the nature of the pandemic, many Elders were told to stay in isolation for their safety. Being in isolation can result in being very lonely, especially without a face-to-face connection. You can read more about the successful initiative through this article by Saanich News.

Elders playing bingo over Zoom
Our local Elders from the Victoria Native Friendship Centre connecting and playing Bingo over Zoom.

This is Zoom at a glance. There’s a reason why it has beaten the likes of Microsoft Skype and Google Meets in terms of download volume. With continuous updates that meet user needs and workplaces now accepting a hybrid home/ office workspace, Zoom is a digital giant that will most likely be around for some time. Better yet, if you learned a few tips from this post, you should become a bit more efficient and set your alarm for 7:56 am.